If you want to sign into your Netflix account, you can choose to authenticate using Facebook’s login service. And using Facebook to log on isn’t just a fast track to Law and Order: SVU marathons; Facebook’s authentification services are available on popular programs across the Internet, from Quora to Airbnb. Considering how Facebook is making strides to strengthen ties with big media companies, it’s most recent bid for a stronger connection to television should come as no surprise: According to AllThingsD, Facebook is in talks with Time Warner and Verizon to use the Facebook login system to connect cable viewers to online video.
Sources say the companies will initially link Verizon’s FiOS TV to Facebook. FiOS TV is a new service using a fiber-optics communications network to deliver entertainment, and in September, people who signed up for this service gained access to several television channels over the Internet. Users accessing this feature on the iOS app can watch BBC America, BBC World News, EPIX, NFL Network, HGTV, DIY, the Tennis Channel, Food Network, and Travel Channel, all on their phones.
Introducing the Facebook login may appeal to users since the authentification process is simple and familiar — instead of filling a bunch of stuff out, they just need to click a few buttons. And Facebook makes is easy for users to share which shows they’re watching with friends. This could help Time Warner, since users can turn their friends on to the service by talking about it on Facebook, increasing traffic.
The biggest winner in this arrangement, of course, will be Facebook, since the company will gain access to data about television watching habits. The company already sends data reports to television networks to help foster ties, and it could do the same for some of the cable networks included in the FiOS service. Facebook is currently battling with Twitter for alliances with big media, and a deluge of new television viewing data plus a partnership with Time Warner will help Facebook better position itself.
This is a good step for Facebook, but Twitter remains a formidable foe, especially as it ramps up efforts to strengthen ties with television advertisers before its IPO. Sure, using Facebook to login is one thing, but Twitter remains the premiere destination for real-time conversation about TV, and that’s going to be a more compelling reason for media companies to endorse Twitter than Facebook’s simple login service.